Table of Contents
- 1 What are Orchids?
- 2 Can You Water Orchids With Ice Cubes?
- 3 How Much Water Do Orchids Need?
- 4 What Are The Benefits Of Watering Orchids With Ice Cubes?
- 5 Alternative Way to Water Orchids
- 6 FAQ
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 References
A common misconception is that orchids are difficult to grow.
If you’ve embraced this notion in the past, you might be surprised to hear that orchids are relatively easy to grow in pots indoors. You just have to be mindful of a few important factors.
The potting medium and surrounding indoor conditions can affect the general watering strategy for your orchid plants.
There are even some orchid enthusiasts who claim that the best way to water orchids is with ice cubes. If so, you might be wondering if you should water orchids with ice cubes.
To effectively answer this question we need to look at some of the important factors that contribute to developing an effective orchid watering strategy.
This includes things like the state of the potting medium, the relative humidity, and your comfort level with handling the plants.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the things that influence an orchid’s watering needs, to help you decide if an ice cube watering strategy is right for you and how to water orchids with ice cubes.
Before we go on, are you looking to start a flower garden? Take a look at other flowers you can grow indoors and outdoors.
What are Orchids?
Orchids are flowering plants that are members of the Phalaenopsis plant family.
The orchid family is one of the world’s largest groups of flowering plants.
There is no shortage of choice in the orchid world, with over 30,000 species growing in the forests and well over 120,000 hybrid varieties.
Except for Antarctica, they can be found on every continent and in almost every imaginable habitat.
With that said, generally, orchids prefer warm climates and relatively high humidity.
This can impact the type of moisture and the temperature of the moisture they receive.
With that in mind, we will go into whether watering orchids with ice cubes is the best way to provide water to your orchid plants.
Can You Water Orchids With Ice Cubes?
Yes, you can water orchids with ice cubes. There is no harm in watering orchids with ice cubes.
The idea of watering orchids with ice cubes may seem weird because plants from tropical areas don’t like it when it gets cold.
As an owner of an orchid plant, you need to make sure they get enough water and have to make sure their plants get the right amount of water without over-or under-watering.
Watering with ice cubes makes caring for orchids a little easier.
How Often Do You Water Orchids With Ice Cubes?
The best guideline for how often to water your orchids with ice cubes is to check how much moisture is in the pot.
However, there is no hard and fast answer to the exact number of days between watering sessions.
The prevailing wisdom is that you should water orchids with ice cubes once a week.
So, make sure to check the soil or growing medium to ensure that it is indeed properly dry. The last thing you want to do is put the plant at risk of waterlogged root rot problems!
You can get a basic idea of the moisture level by gently sticking your finger into the pot.
Another option is to “lift” the orchid’s root mass out of the pot to check the wetness of the growing medium.
However, this takes a careful hand and a little bit of practice. If the pot and soil are indeed dry, you can move on to the basic watering process.
How Many Ice Cubes Does My Orchid Plant Need?
The number of ice cubes to water your orchid will depend on the size of the plant itself.
Most of the time, you can give a small orchid a single ice cube, once per week. When it comes to larger orchids, you may need to use two (maybe three) ice cubes a week.
The ambient warmth of the room will then gradually melt the ice cubes. This essentially mimics the type of slow drips of moisture the plant would receive in the natural environment of a moist tropical forest.
Are Ice Cubes Too Cold For Watering Orchids?
No, ice cubes are not too cold when watering orchids.
The prevailing wisdom is that they prefer warm conditions, and most of the forests they grow in experience anything as cold as ice or even ice water.
Yet there are many orchid enthusiasts who insist that ice cubes are the best way to water these tropical plants.
To understand their point, we’ll need to take a closer look at the benefits of ice cube watering.
How Much Water Do Orchids Need?
Generally, orchids need to be watered once to twice a week during the spring and summer, and then once every two weeks when the weather starts to cool during the fall and winter.
Most people don’t know this, but the size of your orchid pot also impacts how frequently you should water them.
As a rule of thumb, orchids in 6-inch or larger pots require watering every seven days, while 4-inch pots require watering every five to six days.
Most importantly, orchid roots prefer to be watered and then allowed to nearly fully dry out, before being watered again.
Overly wet roots are prone to root rot, fungal diseases, and other conditions that could cause the plant to die.
Does Potting Mix Affect How Much Water Orchids Need?
Potting mix affects how much water orchids need to survive because they need a fair amount of air around their roots while providing enough water.
One of the best ways to mimic natural orchid soil is to use an orchid potting medium that acts like sphagnum moss (or peat moss).
Sphagnum moss absorbs moisture and, at the same time, is very airy.
While some orchids usually come with roots packed in sphagnum, truth is that it is not the ideal medium for growing orchids.
In fact, many horticulturalists would argue that sphagnum moss will kill an orchid as it doesn’t absorb water consistently.
You end up with areas that are overly dry and overly wet, which orchids typically don’t like.
Temperature And Humidity Can Affect How Often An Orchid Needs To Be Watered
As long as an orchid is kept between 65 to 80 degrees, the temperature won’t be a major factor in water.
Just bear in mind that an orchid that is close to a heat vent might dry out faster than normal. At the same time, humidity can also be a major factor impacting an orchid’s watering needs.
Yet it can be hard to know just how much humidity there is in the surrounding air.
An indoor “Weather Station” or a “Humidity Meter” will help you get a better idea of the ambient humidity in the room where you keep your orchids.
With most, you can set the meter right next to the pot and within 10 minutes it will adjust to tell you the conditions right up by the flower itself.
Depending on the variety orchids need 50 to 70% relative humidity, which might be challenging in a northern winter.
If you are having trouble keeping the orchid at 55% humidity or higher, you should consider adding a humidifier.
What Are The Benefits Of Watering Orchids With Ice Cubes?
The primary benefit of watering orchids with ice cubes is that it prevents overwatering.
Watering orchids with ice cubes allow you to control the amount of water every time you water your plants.
There’s no guesswork, which reduces the chances of accidentally over-watering and all the complications that come with it.
An Attempt To Mimic The Moisture Of An Orchid’s Natural Environment
Secondly, the orchid’s roots will benefit from the slow release of water that occurs in the orchid’s naturally warm environment.
This further helps reduce the risk of root rot by allowing the orchid’s roots to take up the water they need when they want.
There are also many orchid enthusiasts who believe that slightly cooler temperatures encourage the plant to produce additional blooms.
With some varieties, it might also encourage orchids to bloom for longer.
Alternative Way to Water Orchids
There are alternative ways to water orchids if you don’t want to use ice cubes.
If you can lift the orchid out of the pot, you can quickly and carefully move it to another pot or a large bowl filled with warm water.
Give five to seven minutes for the soil and roots to absorb the water, and then transfer it back to the original pot.
If the plant is overly root bound, you might want to “Pot It Up” to a larger container with fresh soil medium.
The goal is to avoid getting water on the crown or leaves of the plant. If you do, you will need to lightly pat them dry with a clean paper towel.
If you don’t feel confident lifting the orchid, you can slowly water it from the edges of the pot. Stop watering when you see water emerging from the pot’s drainage holes.
Should I Mist My Orchids?
There is some debate about the value of misting. Some orchid hobbyists insist that misting their plants helps provide them with the type of humidity that they would experience in their natural environment.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are individuals who note that mist on the foliage and surface soil increases the chances of fungal infection and other plant-borne illnesses.
This might be even more of a threat if your home has had an indoor mold problem in the past.
How do you water orchids without ice?
Take your orchid to the sink and drench and saturate the orchid bark with lukewarm water. The key is to make sure to thoroughly wet everything! Shake any excess water off, and that’s it.
How long can orchids go without water?
Orchids can go two to three weeks without watering, and in some cases up to a month. There are certain varieties, such as Cattleyas, Dendrobiums, and Phalaenopsis, that can survive up to three weeks without watering.
How often do you water indoor orchids?
Orchids that are grown indoors need to be watered at least once a week and twice a week when the weather becomes warm and dry. However, the size of your orchid container will also determine how often you water it, as a 6-inch pot will need to be watered once a week, whereas a 4-inch pot needs water every 5 days.
Is it OK to water orchids at night?
No, do not water your orchids at night. Always water your orchids in the morning, no matter the variety. If you water your orchid at night, the water does not have a chance to evaporate and will just sit in the soil. This type of moist and warm environment is perfect for spreading bacterial and fungal infections.
Of all their basic care needs, watering is one of the most important and can be one of the more challenging aspects of successfully growing orchids.
This is probably part of the fuel adding to the heated debate about the best watering method.
There are certainly strong opinions at every point along the spectrum. One of the nice things about watering with ice cubes is that you can give it a try and see if it works for you.
It’s certainly less labor-intensive than lifting the orchid and risking damage to the root mass. Yet it also doesn’t have the guesswork of saturating the potting medium and simply hoping for the best.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.